If we look at the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, we can find different job titles, along with salary ranges. The conclusion of these findings is that there are not many occupations or careers that offer high salaries for the generalists. The jobs that offer salaries of $100,00 or more are most typically in specialized fields, such as medicine, accounting, IT, architecture, and law. This leaves the generalists in a quandary. So if you are an English Lit major, you can either hope that you are talented enough to publish or enter the teaching field, which is a fine option with many benefits. The only other realistic option may be to choose a field in uncharted waters, so to speak.
The four areas that are listed with high-end salaries, yet require no specialized college majors are within the fields of real estate, management, sales, and surprisingly enough, business and finance.
Many people with varying backgrounds end up in real estate. People in this field may start off with low-level salaries, but can rise fairly quickly depending on their diligence. The Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2006 reported that real estate brokers' average salary was $60,790 with commissions.
There are also many generalists who enter the field of management. There are a myriad of jobs under this broad spectrum of management that do not require specialized training or a specific major. It is impossible to give an accurate salary range for management jobs since it can vary greatly — a store manager's salary ranges anywhere between $30,000 — $100,000 and a manager in HR at a big firm can make between $70,000 — $100,000.
While you may think that all jobs in business and finance are specialized and require a degree in business, this is not necessarily the case. Of course, when going for a high level job, without any experience, you might find yourself at a disadvantage when competing with those who do hold degrees in business. However, this is not to say that a person holding a liberal arts degree cannot land a job as a financial advisor, where the average salary was reported to be $66,120.
Sales is a field that is growing in leaps and bounds. For sales, you need personality, motivation, and determination. Depending on what you are selling, people in this career can be very low wage earners or may even reach an income level of 100K or more. Sales may be scary and has a high risk factor, but it is probably the best bet and the option that holds a good earning potential for a liberal arts major.
If you are willing to forgo your field of study and enter one of these fields, you need to develop other skills. You first have to take an initiative. You need to have the desire to succeed. You also need to have a positive attitude and confidence in yourself and your abilities. Leadership, communication skills, and compatibility with others are also essential skills that are required in each one of these high-paying fields.
The fact remains that most high-end jobs do require specialized education. But this is certainly not to say that your bachelor's degree cannot help you enter a lucrative field. A college degree of any kind leads to opportunities.